모더니즘과포스트모더니즘[2017-2학기] (23)

Course title (Korean)/ Course title (English) / Course No.

모더니즘과 포스트모더니즘/ Modernism and Postmodernism/ ENG 3204

Enrollment Eligibility


Course Overview

Have “we” (and who are “we”?) ever been modern? For that matter, have we ever been post-modern? And for that matter, are we really post-post-modern, meta-modern, hyper-modern, or even contemporary?

The hinge, or the “tipping point” between the modern and post-modern is difficult to locate historically, if it can even be said to exist at all. In reality, modernism and post-modernism overlap more than they are truly distinct from one another. But in general, theories of the turn from the modern to the post-modern identify the Second World War as creating a great cultural rift with “grand narratives” provided by things like religion and nationalism, as people stared down into the abyss left after the atom bomb. After Auschwitz, as Theodor Adorno famously wrote, there can be no poetry. While modernism in literature, performance, and the arts attempted to break with tradition and create the entirely new (the “avant-garde”), the so-called post-modern era has been obsessed with prophesying the end times, looking toward an apocalyptic future where all has come to a crashing end, where “things fall apart” and language breaks down. This is part of Frederic Jameson’s argument in “Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism.” If the modern in poetry, drama, and literature was about experimenting with formal devices to create new access to the truth of human experience, then the post-modern has been about exploring the fragmentation, relativity, multiplicity, and complexity of any system of knowledge or process of creation. If the modern was about access to a kind of “truth” or “unity”, the post-modern has taken an extremely skeptical stance, denying the possibility of “truth” or perennial notions of God, the nation, or any other “grand narrative” that could explain existence. If modernism constantly attempted to create new forms, post-modern writers and artists used bricolage and pastiche to recycle and re-invent old myths. If the moderns were wary of industry and technology because it alienated people from the inner self or from nature, post-modern writers have embraced technology and ideas of post-humanity and hybridity with machines (cyborgs).

But there are some theorists, such as Bruno Latour, who claim that we have never been modern at all, let alone post-modern. Latour’s theory looks at the way that our hyper-technical and synthesized lives co-exist with “pre-modern” ways of being, and that the world of things is not as empirically knowable as the modern mind would like to assume. As a class, we will explore this “tipping point” between the modern and the post-modern through four sections, each dealing with a different genre: the short story, the novel, poetry, and drama. Each section will compare and contrast a typical modern and post-modern example of the genre. Along the way, I will introduce you to theories of modernism and post-modernism in literature and culture. We will also build our vocabulary, so that by the end of the course you will know how to differentiate between, for example, parody and pastiche, an assemblage and a happening, and kitsch and camp. In class, I will draw examples not only from our texts, but also from popular culture, film, cartoons, commercial products, and more.